Category Archives: Spurious


The student hall.


Through the grounds.

The high spiked fence around the perimeter.

Holding the horror back, I say.

Only just, Gita says. It’s scary out here … There’s a bad moon rising, Donny.

It’s always bad, I say.

There it is, showing its face to us, Gita says.

That’s not a face, I say. That’s the opposite of a face. That’s just death, staring out.

Funny no one goes up there anymore, Gita says.

What – to the moon?, I say. Why would you bother? What’s up there?

I thought they wanted to build some giant telescope on the moon’s dark side, Gita says. To see further into space. And further back in time. All the way back to the Big Bang.

The Big Fucking Mistake, more like, I say.


Looking back at the hall.

Imagine it without the student annex, I say. Without the refectory out back. Just the old mansion.

Sure it’s pretty, Gita says. It’s a real idyll.

They use it as a film set in the holidays, I say. They film exteriors here. Old cars crunching up on the gravel, and the like.

It’s a real let’s-pretend place, Gita says.

See the way the old mansion pulls the whole setting together?, I say. The way it gathers the grounds around it. The lawn? The trees? …

It’s like my old school, Gita says.

This whole place is like an island, I say. A little patch of green in the midst of all the horrors and the terrors. And do you see the way they laid this path – all winding? There are corners you can turn and suddenly everything opens up … They had a real sense of drama, back then.

I’ll bet you’re the only one who sees this place as what it is, Gita says.

As what it was, I say.

Maybe you’ll become warden one day, Gita says.

I can’t, I say. That’s for professors at the uni.

So maybe you’ll be a professor, Gita says.

The uni will probably sell it off, I say. It’s always being threatened. These places can’t survive.

You should just be Lord of Manor, Donny, Gita says. You could wander the grounds, hands behind your back.

I’d rather be a groundskeeper, I say. I should have been a landscape gardener instead of … whatever it is I do.

Do you know the names of the trees, Donny? Do you know their names?

That’s a horse chestnut, I think. And that’s an old English oak.

My favourite bench, by the flower beds.

Sitting, smoking.

Looking into the wardens’ conservatory.

Beautiful, Gita says. It’s like some National Trust property.

See, it isn’t horror everywhere, I say. There are exceptions. There’s a real expanse to this place. An ease. It suspends the law of the world. It’s like you’ve pressed a giant pause button on … everything else … There are views that matter – that’s what I think. That lift you out of everything. There are landscapes …

You’re a real nature-boy, Gita says. Someone’s going to love you for this kind of talk. You’re going to fascinate someone. Someone will rally to your cause. Someone’s going to love you, and someone’s going to love me. We’re both very loveable.

I’ll dream of this view in fifty years’ time, I say. It’ll be the last thing I see before I die.


I’ve known things – terrible things, I say. In the home. I’ve seen real evil.


People talk about the banality of evil, I say. The evil of pen-pushers, just following orders, just being good Nazis or whatever. But this wasn’t banal …

The horrors and the terrors. I’ve seen them. I’ve known them. They’re insatiable, I say. You can’t give them enough. It’s just … greed.  And we were like … trapped animals.

I’m sorry, Gita says.

It’s like Antichrist – did you ever see that?, I say. Chaos just fucking … reigns. One day I’ll go mad from … chaos.

But you have your vistas, Donny. You have your grass and your tennis court and your trees …

I see a darkness, I say. I see a fucking darkness, swallowing up the world. Putting out the stars. Swallowing up the sky. Swallowing up me and swallowing up you.

God, Donny …, Gita says.

I see a darkness – that’s all I see, I say. And sometimes I can forget it, and sometimes I can’t. Sometimes it feels too thick, and that it’s choking me. And sometimes … It lets me breathe.

Silence. Gita’s hand on mine.

I shouldn’t have said those things, I say. It’s too much, I know that.

Say anything you like, Donny, Gita says.

I’m about this far from insanity, I say. This far … Will I have to go mad? Is it inevitable? There are these distances … in my head …

You’re not going to go mad, Donny, Gita says. You’re never going to go mad. Look at the moon. Look at the night. It’s all dead, but you’re alive. And sane. And here. You survived everything … I love you Donny.

Don’t say what you don’t mean, I say. Don’t say it.

I love you, Gita says. Not in that way, but I do.  And one day, someone’s going to take you away from all this. Someone’s going to love you and save you. Someone good, who knows what beauty is. And truth. Who knows what truth is, too.

— Spurious, from a novel in progress

The hills are unaware that we are watching them, he says. The trees. The insects. This is what is marvellous.

No one is watching us, he says. Nothing sees us.

But at other times, it frightens him, this ‘no one is watching us’. It’s as though not-watching itself is watching; as though the sky, which sees nothing, sees everything in that seeing-nothing.

We can have no secrets from the sky, he says. We are read by the sky.

— Lars Iyer, Wittgenstein Jr. 

‘Only the hopeless can truly understand the everyday’

He can imagine me as a boy, W. says, cycling out through the new housing estates, and through what remained of the woodland – muddy tracks along field-edges, fenced-in bridleways and overgrown footpaths. —‘You were looking for something’, he says. ‘You knew something was missing.’

He sees it in his mind’s eye: I’m carrying my bike over the railway bridge. I’m cycling through glades of tree stumps in the forestry plantations. I’m following private roads past posh schools and riding academies. I’m looking for barrows and ley lines, W. says. I’m looking for Celtic gods and gods of any kind.

And what do I find as I wheel my bike across the golf course? What, in the carpark of an out-of-town retail park? What, on the bench outside the supermarket, eating my discounted sandwiches? The everyday, W. says, which is to say, the opposite of the gods.


Religion is about this world, about the ordinary, the everyday, W. says, over our pints at The Queen’s Oak. Why does no one understand that? W. says. Why will no one listen?

But when it comes to the everyday itself, I am the expert, not him, W. says. Only I understand what it means to reach the depths, which is to say the surface, of the everyday.

It has to be felt, the everyday, W. is convinced of that. It has to have defeated you. Humiliated you. A man who hasn’t been brought to his knees by the everyday can have no understanding of the everyday, says W., aphoristically.

I’ve certainly been brought to my knees, W. says, that much is clear. I’ve spent whole years on my knees.


‘We are ferociously religious’, says W., quoting Bataille. Are we? —‘Oh yes’, W. says, ‘especially you. Especially you!’ That’s why he hangs out with me, w. says, he’s sure of it: my immense religious instinct, of which I am entirely unaware.

It’s all to do with my intimate relationship with the everyday, W. says. It’s to do with my years of unemployment and menial work, he says.

When he thinks of religion, he immediately thinks of me working in my warehouse, he says. He thinks of me in the warehouse with no hope in my life.

Only the hopeless can truly understand the everyday, W. says. Only they can approach the everyday at its level. And only those who can approach the everyday in such a way are really religious, W. says.

— Lars Iyer, Dogma

A drop of the sea in the sea

W. dreams of a thought that would move with what it thinks, follow and respond to it, like a surfer his wave. A thought that would inhabit what was to be thought, like a fish the sea – no, a thought that would be only a drop of the sea in the sea, belonging to its object as water does to water.

— Lars Iyer, Dogma

A merciful surplus of strength

Each time, the act of writing depends upon what Kafka has called ‘a merciful surplus of strength’ that returns the writer to the ‘I can’ that opens the world according to what is possible for a human being. Each time, strength lifts the writer from the quagmire, from those swamplike moods in which the self is not yet gathered together. Moods which, if not uncommon are too quickly forgotten, like the night mists that vanish with morning.


One writes for the disadjusted… that is to say, for one’s friends, and less for the friends one has than for the innumerable unknown people who have the same life as us, who roughly and crudely understand the same things, are able to accept or must refuse the same, and who are in the same state of powerlessness and official silence.

— Dionys Mascolo, via here

Sometimes it is necessary to depart. Sometimes it is necessary to leave it all behind. That’s how I understood the act of blogging, back when I started Spurious, the blog which shares the same name as [my] novel. As someone who had made some progress as an academic – a journey which implies valuable training as well as compromise and despair – I thought a kind of exodus was necessary, from existing forms of published writing. Leave it all behind! I told myself. Leave the Egypt of introductory books and academic journals and edited collections behind. Leave the slave-drivers behind, and the sense you have of being a slave. Leave capitalism and capitalist relations behind. Leave behind any sense of the importance of career and advancement. Leave behind those relationships that are modelled on investment and return.

Lars Iyer

As if what was greatest about these artists (and there are others — Duras, say) is a kind of asceticism that leads them through their art as though it preceded it; as though writing (or painting, or filmmaking) was only a means, just as Zen can combine with both the art of archery and that of flower arranging. A kind of asceticism, a great sobriety that can lead a right-wing monarchist Catholic like Blanchot, young and privileged, very far from himself. Who is he, become writer? Who does he become?

Vague questions poorly posed. But I wonder in my foolishness whether there is not a kind of ethics in writing, in filmmaking, in painting… an art of life from the perspective of which (from its great heights) one would not laugh at Giacometti’s prose. This question, though: are we (this ‘we’ again — how laughable!) not too late for that, too late altogether? That asceticism must also be combined with a terrible self-mockery, an unsparing suspicion as the importance of writing, of painting, of filmmaking disappears altogether (only an idiot would call himself a poet; only a fool an artist. And who could call themselves a philosopher? Laughable, all laughable).


Some, in our minds, sought to think without thinking, to write without writing. What matters is to live this ‘without’, they said, very mysteriously.

— Spurious, ‘Missing Thinkers’

Experience is in the first place a struggle against the spell in which useful language holds us.

— Battaille (via here)